until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


The solution to Aprilia's growing MotoGP 2025 rider headache

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

For quite some time it’s been presumed that Aprilia’s masterplan for replacing Aleix Espargaro next season has been a simple one: to poach whichever factory rider candidate loses out in Ducati’s game of MotoGP musical chairs.

But with time running out - and with now potentially two seats to fill not one - it seems like that it's going to focus its attention on a different target: Marco Bezzecchi.

For quite some time, even though team boss Massimo Rivola might not have said it out loud, Aprilia's rider market strategy has been a pretty obvious one. With Marc Marquez, Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin all seemingly locked in a battle for factory status alongside Pecco Bagnaia at Aprilia’s Italian rival, it’s always been clear that one name would appear on the market.

It's been unlikely from day one to have been Marquez, only months after switching factories having been happy to settle for a satellite team place with a factory bike next year, and current title leader Martin has also been something of an outside bet - even as much as the retiring Espargaro would like to hand his machine over to his ‘brother’.

That has realistically left current Ducati factory rider Bastianini as the best-placed racer in Aprilia’s sights. Fast, Italian, and with impressive race pace that very much plays to the strength of the Aprilia RS-GP, he would be a natural fit - something that his manager, former Aprilia team boss Carlo Pernat, is happy to point out at any opportunity.

However, with Ducati’s contract negotiations stalling somewhat and no factory rider set (it seems) to be announced this weekend in Mugello as first expected, it seems that, according to The Race’s sources in the paddock, Aprilia has turned slightly and is looking at current VR46 Ducati racer Bezzecchi as an alternative.

Bezzecchi was adamant 12 months ago that he too wanted a factory ride in the future, but turned down the chance of a promotion to Pramac to remain with the team he knew best when the option of a step straight to factory red was denied by Bastianini.

But he's struggled since then on a year-old bike that hasn’t been able to match the current machine in terms of early-season pace like it was expected to.

However, Bezzecchi’s talent remains - and Aprilia might be thinking right now that there’s an opportunity for something of a bargain signing.

There is, of course, the prospect of Ducati trying to lure Bezzecchi into staying at VR46 in the longer term - but that’s likely to require providing him with a factory-spec GP25 next season. That in turn will require current top-tier satellite team Pramac to break its contract and move to Yamaha - a process that seems to have somewhat stalled as Ducati first works out who will be joining Bagnaia in 2025.

However, there might be another reason why Aprilia is also quietly expressing renewed interest in Bezzecchi that’s got nothing to do with turning away from Bastianini as an option, with fresh rumours coming out of last weekend’s Catalan Grand Prix hinting at the need to replace not just Espargaro for 2025 but also his current team-mate Maverick Vinales.

His form has been hit-and-miss since his amazingly dominant performance at the Circuit of the Americas last month, suggesting that was nothing more than just another high point in his rollercoaster career rather than a wholesale change in form.

And perhaps as a result, he’s now looking at not just his potential future performance but also his bank balance - and is rumoured to be in talks with Honda about a potential move to replace Joan Mir, who hasn’t exactly hidden his excitement to leave.

Should that be the case, Aprilia will be in the market for not one but two talents to join the factory squad next year - something that could pave the way for an all-Italian dream team of Bezzecchi and Bastianini if the stars align.

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